Altitude Mountain Sickness

  • What is acute mountain sickness?

    The "acute mountain sickness" also called MAM affects almost all people going to high altitude. It most often appears only from 3500 m. MAM is due to a lack of oxygenation in the brain following poor acclimatization.

    The MAM only appears after several hours at altitude. Thus people using a cable car while admiring the viewpoint are not affected. It regresses with acclimatization and immediately disappears on the descent.

    What are the symptoms of MAM?
    MAM manifests itself by:

    Mild symptoms
    - headaches,
    - short breathing,
    - insomnia,
    - fatigue,
    - nausea,

    Some people think that these signs are due to poor diet, the sun or the discomfort of the shelter.

     Severe symptoms:
    - a decrease in the volume of urine
    - the appearance of edemas which are often localized in the eyes, face, hands, ankles.

    These edemas can be very serious and sometimes even fatal.

    At a high altitude (4000m - 5000m), High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (OPHA) can occur suddenly during the first two nights.

    What to do when you have MAM?

    The MAM regresses with acclimatization and immediately disappears on the descent.

    How to deal with acute mountain sickness depends on its severity.

    - If it is light, 1g of paracetamol 3 times a day is enough. The next day if the condition is satisfactory you will be able to start again but by moderating your pace.

    - If paracetamol has no effect, then you have a moderate MAM. The guide will stop the progression and make you descend. If you continue your condition may worsen very quickly. You should not spend the night saying to yourself "it will be better tomorrow"! The guide then organizes an emergency descent to the previous stage where you will stay to rest for one or two days. You can then join the group if all goes well. If the symptoms are more severe, you will be taken to a local hospital.

    The medicine called Diamox can be used on medical advice. It is taken as a prevention for people prone to altitude sickness.

    Instructions to follow to avoid MAM

    The golden rule is acclimatization
    For a good acclimatization at high altitude, each stage will be done with a drop of 400 to 500 m maximum per day beyond an altitude of 3,500 meters. The guide will give you the right pace for walking at altitude. The progression will be slow, calm, always listening to your breath. Beyond 3500m you will have a stage called "acclimatization". You will hike up in altitude (+ 500m) and you will descend to base camp.

    It is very important to stay hydrated throughout the day. We will serve you tea very regularly. In the evening at dinner, the garlic soup will benefit you.

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